I am 33 days status-post rotator cuff surgery. I am still wearing a sling, though mostly only when away from home and when I sleep at night, or when I get tired or have pain. I can move my arm and should; however, I have extremely limited ROM. It just occurred to me that “should” is in the word “shoulder” and now I can’t unsee it. Sort of like when someone pointed out that “homeowner” contains the word “meow,” or that “Saturday” contains the word “turd” and now I cannot unsee any of this.
Anyway, I cannot lift my arm except from the elbow up – picture holding your arm close to your side and only moving from the elbow down. I cannot lift anything. I’ve begun typing with two hands but this, too, is a strain and the keyboard has to be below me with my forearms resting securely on the table/surface. This is easier to do at home – not sure how that will play out yet at work but I’m ready to try. For the record, this post is officially the second time I’ve typed with two hands.
Do I have pain? Well, let’s put it this way, if someone tried to tear your arm from the socket, would it hurt? I’m doing what’s called Passive PT – where the therapist’s job is to stretch my arm and shoulder twice a week – and – don’t tell anybody – I look forward to this. The stretch feels good. The break between is excruciating and very close to the pain I felt when I woke from neck surgery. Like hold-my-breath painful. Not a 10 out of 10, but a solid 7.
Sleeping presents its own issues – I highly recommend a wedge for resting, sleeping, reading on the couch, etc – however, even the wedge isn’t a miracle worker. The pain in my shoulder/arm wakes me every night/early morning – and nothing helps but getting up and doing the pendulum swings. I’m told that I will be playing golf by summer, but he balked when I mentioned planks. This, my friends, is not good news. The real PT begins in another couple of weeks so it’s anybody’s guess how long that will take to get me up to (weightbearing) speed.
Nevertheless, I’m babbling for four paragraphs to summarize that I did not find this surgery to be “the most painful surgery you can have,” probably because 1) it was arthroscopic and 2) I went in with that expectation. Outside of PT and middle-of-the-night wakings, I have intermittent pain that does not require Tylenol and other pain that comes from doing something I’m not supposed to be doing. Oh – and when someone playfully slaps your shoulder before they realize they have incapacitated you for ten minutes. Twice. (I forgive you boys. LOL.)
We all know I’m a really bad patient but this go-round I would like to think I’ve been a model patient (well, except for a couple of accidentally doing something I’m not supposed to do).I am following all the rules and being patient. It took 53 years for this! Let’s pause for a moment of silence.
So last Tuesday at PT I heard a Nickelback song playing and it took me back 12 years to that difficult time when I was trying to survive in a household with a narcissist and a pending divorce and two oblivious children. Music really spoke to me in those days. Some songs were anthems to my reclaimed self, others were love notes to my first love – including one Nickelback song I sent him via text one night, Far Away It was a leap of faith, sending that song, because the damage done to me made me almost not want to love again.
These thoughts, while I laid there on the table with my arm in astounding agony, led me to thinking of that first time I told X that I was going out. Going out sounds so innocuous, right? In that household, it was a mortal sin. Sure, I could’ve always said, I’M GOING, STFU, but you’ve heard of choosing your battles, right? There were so many in that turbulent sea of control that I just wasn’t up to the task of making waves. I barely made it to Nana’s funeral because of it.
Anyway, the first time I left the house. It took a remarkable amount of bravery to do that. It took a fair amount of bravery to use the word divorce months earlier and walk into an attorney’s office and sign the paperwork, and a fair amount of stupidity to allow him to continue living in the house and lie to the kids while we worked out details. None of it matters now. I know that there was never going to be a “right way” to handle any of it – I still believe I’d still be right here, right now. No matter how I handled X over the last 12 years, I’d still be missing my kids today – because he would find a way to take them. If there’s one thing I can say he’s good at –it’s hurting people.
Speaking of hurting people, Veruca will be 18 years old in 125 days. It’s difficult to believe the spunky little girl who fought insulin pump changes like a cat getting a bath and who clung to me around strangers and even family has grown into a smart, confident, ambitious, callous, and soon-to-be emancipated young woman. Were she here she might have laughed at me struggling to get dressed, or trying to find pants I can pull up with one hand.
Everything takes longer right now, and right now I accept that and embrace it without complaint. You would be surprised what you can do with one hand. I have two pairs of jeans I can hike up over my ever-expanding backside and several pairs of joggers that are as comfortable as PJs without actually wearing PJs because I drew the line at that after my two-week followup. I’m not gonna lie though, I’m legit worried about getting my work uniform on without getting stuck in it. Stay tuned.
The most challenging part of recovery is – inclusive of the pants I choose – having to manage bathroom breaks. I drink a lot of coffee and water and everybody knows the outcome of this. Therefore, the right pants – particularly when one is over 50 – are integral to successful toileting while recovering from rotator cuff repair. Aint nobody got time for tight jeans stuck to your rump that you need a crowbar to get down when your bladder is full.
So THIS is where she finally ties in the peculiar title of this post…
Yesterday over coffee Todd told me about his bizarre dream. He was at a party in this huge house and so many people… and he said he was “just looking for a bathroom.” Woke up before he found one. And before you ask, I don’t remember if he got up and went to the bathroom. But I decided that was the title of my next post, all sense be damned.
MY dream was more bizarre, I think, because I was at my old home and I was explaining to X the mistake he was making with the kids and how it was going to play out and his wife was in the background nodding along, and then V came downstairs and she was not wearing a shirt, only her long hair covering her chest and when I questioned it she said everyone is going out like this now. And she towered over me by several inches and then she hugged me and said, we need to stop this now.
There was no looking for a bathroom in that one; however, there IS a bathroom at the restaurant, where I went Friday night. I surprised mom and friend D – who was in the bathroom when I arrived, myself with a full bladder. So I went into the stall next to D and started making guttural sounds with my throat and coughing, which led to silent hysteria such that it was beyond imperative for me to extract myself from my jeans. Once that was done I resumed the horking and hocking and… I have never seen her move so fast in my life. She ran out of the restroom like it was on fire and I burst out laughing. Oh, we have fun, we do.
So, if nothing else, today’s title is a reminder to always know where the bathroom is. And, also, never pass a bathroom without stopping. You’re welcome.
Each human creates his/her reality; one completely unique to what that person expects/believes. ~ Jane Roberts